Theme/Style – Portraits, landscapes, still lifes, interiors, illustration
Media – Oils, murals
Artistic Focus – An artist with important ties to mid-century contemporary art, Manuel Tolegian began as a Social-Realist painter during the 1930s, and painted social protest scenes. Later in life he specialized in realistic still lifes and portraiture. His association with important artistic luminaries impacted his art, exemplified by the portrait he painted of movie and television star Cesar Romero.
Career Highlights –
- Manuel Jerair Tolegian was born in Fresno, California, in 1911. At age nine he moved to Los Angeles, where his first art studies were at Manual Arts High School under Frederick Schwankovsky. Two of his fellow students were Philip Guston and Jackson Pollock.
- Tolegian and Pollock subsequently left Los Angeles together for New York City, where they shared studios and attended The Art Students League, studying first under Thomas Hart Benton and later with John Sloan, John Steuart Curry, and George Grosz.
- During the 1930s Tolegian and Pollock made several trips between New York and Los Angeles together, first as hitchhikers, and then, as their artistic fortunes improved, via Tolegian’s automobile.
- Tolegian exhibited at San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. By the early 1940s Tolegian had returned permanently to live in Los Angeles.
- During World War II Tolegian was a correspondent in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and did a series of paintings of Army nurses at Camp White, Oregon.
- A boyhood friend of writer William Saroyan,Tolegian wrote the folk music for Saroyan’s Pulitzer prize-winning play The Time of Your Life, and his book illustrations include Dinner at Omar Khayyam’s and The Dove Brings Peace.
- After the war Tolegian settled in Sherman Oaks, California, where he remained until his death in 1983.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.